In our final — for now! — Hot Licks DVD series Blues review, Ronnie Earl joins us to teach us how to play “Blues Guitar with Soul.”  One thing you gotta love about Ronnie’s teaching style is that he’s relaxed and calm.  There are audio problems with the DVD as his voice fades in and out.  At times, Ronnie seems a little confused and uncertain — a kinder editor could’ve saved him from those broadcast lapses in memory — and the included printed TABs are poor quality and hard to read.

Those smacks are against the quality of the DVD and not Ronnie.  Ronnie’s a good boy from Queens:

Ronnie Earl was born Ronald Horvath in Queens, New York, on March 10, 1953. After picking up his first guitar twenty years later, he went on to stretch the boundaries of electric blues guitar playing higher, lifting hearts and souls a little higher as he did. Like a harmonic seventh note sliding its way into a piece of music before being felt, he would eventually emerge into the New England blues scene as a budding young guitarist.

In 1963, when he was ten years old, Ronnie’s parents signed him up for piano lessons, which he quickly abandoned, discovering that he disliked the discipline of practicing. He graduated from Forest Hills High School in New York in 1971. After high school, Ronnie attended C.W. Post College on Long Island for a year and a half studying American History. It was during these early college years that Ronnie first started playing the guitar. Eventually he transferred to Boston University where he would graduate in 1975 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education & Special Education. Ronnie spent a short time teaching and working with children with special needs in the Newton school system, as well as the League School in Government Center.

Here’s a cut scene from the DVD.  You can feel Ronnie’s cool easiness in performance:

The Ronnie Earl DVD is slightly advanced.  He assumes you know several basic Blues chords and how to move up and down the fretboard.  This DVD is not for the beginning guitar player, but rather for the intermediate to advance student who is looking for some new styles to practice and new theories to test and employ in performance.


  1. Great article, David. Maybe you should do a writeup containing the different dvds and sites you have reviewed thusfar and suggest “course combinations” — “Start with this dvd, then graduate to…” ? 🙂

  2. That’s a good idea, Gordon. I have a couple more DVDs to review this week and I still have a stack of books I hope to review, too. Did you ever take possession of your “new” guitar?

  3. I am not sure why I didn’t like it…I liked the teaching of Hubert Sumlin way more…Arlen Roth was the best so far…
    Am I missing something?

  4. Nope! You aren’t missing anything. Hubert is a real gem. Arlen is my overall favorite and he invented the whole Hot Licks series to get “real players” talking about their way of playing… so he’s a SuperGenius and a Pioneer.

  5. Sadly, no. My friend couldn’t find her guitar as it had been loaned out. I’m going to have to work out financing on a good guitar. 🙂

  6. Oh, rats! You will be better off getting your own guitar. There are some really great deals on Craigslist and eBay.
    You also have The Music Zoo not too far from you. They’re the #1 music house in NYC and that’s where I’d go if I were you. Tell them who you are, what you hope to accomplish and let them find you a really good used guitar or a new one if you have bigger bucks.

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